The Nets were a few inches away from a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals. Now, they enter the 2021 offseason with a few significant decisions to make.
BIG MONEY FOR THE BIG 3?
Brooklyn can lock its Big 3 in through 2026 by signing each player to a contract extension this offseason. The Nets sent Houston six first-round picks (three outright and three via pick swap) in the James Harden trade. So you’d think that Brooklyn would be motivated to retain Harden, Kevin Durant and Kyrie Irving for years to come.
As ESPN’s Bobby Marks details, both Irving and Harden could earn more money if they declined their 2022-23 player option and entered free agency. But given Harden and Irving’s stated commitment to winning a title in Brooklyn, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they were willing to sacrifice the potential earnings for a chance to win a ring with the Nets.
If the Nets don’t extend their Big 3 this offseason, there will be an added level of uncertainty throughout the entire 2021-22 season because Durant, Harden and Irving all have player options on their 2022-23 contracts.
But extending a player like Irving, who has missed significant time over the past two seasons due to injury, comes with a degree of risk.
HARD TO UPGRADE THE ROSTER?
The Nets will only have veteran’s minimum exceptions and the $6 million tax-payer exception to offer free agents this summer.
Like past “super teams,” Brooklyn will rely on the draw of playing with stars and competing for a title with free agents. It’s fair to assume that the Nets will have interest in Milwaukee’s PJ Tucker this summer. Tucker battled his buddy Durant all series and would certainly boost the Nets’ defense next season.
After helping the Bucks in Game 7, Tucker acknowledged that the Nets were one of his preferred destinations prior to the 2020 trade deadline. The veteran forward would probably have to accept significantly less money next season to sign with the Nets.
Also worth noting: Some with the Nets have had interest in acquiring Avery Bradley in past offseasons/trade deadlines. The Rockets have a $6 million team option for Bradley next season. It’s unclear if the Rockets plan to exercise that option.
In addition to pursuing available free agents, the Nets also have to make decisions on their own players.
Bruce Brown, who played a pivotal complementary role for Brooklyn, is a restricted free agent. Blake Griffin, Jeff Green, Mike James, Tyler Johnson and Timothe Luwawu-Cabarrot are among the Nets who will be free agents this offseason.
WHAT ABOUT DINWIDDIE?
Spencer Dinwiddie has a $12 million player option for 2021-22. He told Forbes recently that he will turn that extension down. Several teams engaged with the Nets on potential Dinwiddie deals prior to the 2020 trade deadline. Nothing materialized, but teams had expected the Nets to seriously listen to trade offers for the point guard, who missed most of the season due to an ACL injury.
Teams gathering intel on Dinwiddie’s free agency expect that he’d open to signing with the cross-town Knicks, who will have significant cap space in the 2021 offseason. It’s possible that the Nets look to re-sign Dinwiddie. Though doing so would probably add to their luxury tax bill for next season.